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Simone Manuel makes history at the Rio Olympics 2016

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Simone Manuel makes history on the 7th of August 2016 when she became first black woman in Olympic history to earn an individual swimming gold medal and the first African-American woman to win an individual medal. But why is her win so significant?

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Between 1877 and the mid 1960s, segregation tightened and racial oppression of the coloured race escalated across the United States.

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The Jim Crow  racial caste system represented the legitimization of anti-black racism, relegating the  African-American to the status of second class citizens.

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All major societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of blacks,restricting blacks from using public transport and facilities, access to juries, jobs, and neighborhoods. African-Americans were often denied access to pools  and even after its abolition white people found other ways to exclude them.

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“Southern cities typically shut down their public pools rather than allow mixed-race swimming,” Wiltse said. “In the North, whites generally abandoned pools that became accessible to blacks and retreated to ones located in thoroughly white neighborhoods or established private club pools, where racial discrimination was still legal.”

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The groundbreaking win…

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…and history in the making.

“The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people who came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport,” she said. “For people who believe that they can’t do it. I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”- Simone Manuel

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